Paul Merson believes Brendan Rodgers is the best candidate to succeed Graham Potter at Chelsea, questioning the suitability of frontrunner Julian Nagelsmann.
Potter was relieved of his duties at Stamford Bridge on Sunday just seven months into the job, with the Blues languishing in 11th in the Premier League, after Saturday’s 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa.
With co-owner Todd Boehly tasked with making a third managerial appointment since taking over the London club in May 2022, Nagelsmann, who was sacked by Bayern Munich and replaced by former Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel last week, has emerged as the favourite to succeed Potter.
But, in his latest Sky Sports column, Merson outlines why Nagelsmann would represent a bad choice before making the case for former Leicester manager Rodgers to take the reins, and reflecting on where it went wrong for Potter at Chelsea…
Tuesday 4th April 7:00pm
Kick off 8:00pm
The case for Brendan Rodgers at Chelsea
I would like to see Brendan Rodgers in at Chelsea. Either Rodgers or Mauricio Pochettino, who would have to get off to a flyer at Stamford Bridge given his previous allegiances with Tottenham. If he lost his first two games, there would be mayhem.
I’m a big Brendan Rodgers fan. Unfortunately, things have gone horribly wrong at Leicester. In football it all comes down to timing, and let’s be honest, if Leicester were where Brighton are now, everyone would be calling for Rodgers to go to Chelsea.
Rodgers ticks every box; he plays on the front foot, he started his coaching career at Chelsea and knows the club. But the timing of the Chelsea job coming up this time hasn’t worked in his favour, with him getting the sack at Leicester four hours before Potter was relieved of his duties.
Chelsea fans will question why they should turn to a manager who has just been sacked by Leicester, but if you look at the all-round picture, Rodgers is a good manager who has worked at top clubs like Liverpool and Celtic, won trophies at Leicester and put them on the brink of Champions League qualification. I just think Rodgers is the one.
Nagelsmann and the managerial merry-go-round
I like Bruno Saltor, he’s a good bloke, a top player and professional. He will be in charge for a bit, but I don’t know long, especially with former Bayern Munich manager Julian Nagelsmann available.
Nagelsmann is among the favourites to succeed Potter at Chelsea but hold on a minute. Chelsea got rid of Thomas Tuchel and a few months down the line they bring in the guy who Bayern Munich sacked to bring in Thomas Tuchel.
How have Chelsea got the best deal if that comes to fruition? You couldn’t write up a scenario like that. You would end up throwing your book in the sea if you read that on holiday. But then again, it would just about sum up this season at Chelsea.
Potter’s positivity unacceptable at Chelsea
The writing was on the wall for Graham Potter after the defeat to Aston Villa. I’m a big fan of Potter, but even I lost patience with him on Saturday.
He had the best right wing-back in the world playing at right centre-back. People talk about footballing visions but, for me, when you open your eyes you should see common sense, and that means playing your best players in their best positions.
Playing Aston Villa at home, Chelsea have to go and take the game to them, but it was like Potter’s first game in charge and he had never seen them play before.
The sacking had to come; this is Chelsea. When Potter first got the job he said there were a lot of positives after a defeat. You may be able to say that at Brighton, but when Chelsea Football Club lose at home there are no positives.
After Chelsea lost to Aston Villa he was at it again, saying there were a lot of positives in the game. I’m afraid you just can’t say that as Chelsea manager.
What went wrong for Potter?
While Potter clearly got behind the eight ball at Chelsea, I don’t think taking the job was too big for him at this stage of his career, far from it.
What was clear, though, was that he wasn’t behind the majority of the signings that were made during his tenure. There is only so long that kind of relationship between manager and board can last.
I went to the Tottenham vs Chelsea game in February and Potter brought Mykhailo Mudryk on with five minutes to go, a player that was signed for over £80m.
Now, if that was Potter’s player he would be playing from the start, so that tells you everything you need to know about how he was up against it with the club’s hierarchy.
Where next for Graham Potter?
Potter’s reputation has been damaged by the Chelsea affair, 100 per cent.
As for where he goes now, just off the top of my head I could see him doing a job at a Leicester, for example. He would probably keep them up this season and keep them at least middle of the table next season in the Premier League next season.
I was fortunate enough to play for big clubs, it’s a lot different, and I imagine the same applies to management. You have to win, nothing less than winning is acceptable. Potter will know that more than anyone after leaving Chelsea.